Medical-legal partnerships address social issues affecting patient health

Pediatricians often recommend families use air conditioners to manage a child’s asthma, but this may cause legal problems.

Three pediatric patients with asthma faced eviction by a landlord opposed to the use of window air conditioners in his buildings in Cincinnati. The patients’ doctors sent the families to a local medical-legal partnership (MLP) to find legal remedy. The MLP lawyers identified a legal basis to address the unlawful threatened evictions and found legal leverage to get the landlord to make other improvements to all his buildings. More importantly, the children’s health improved once the asthma triggers were addressed.

It is doubtful this would have happened without physicians and lawyers working together to address the root cause of the children’s health problem.

A similar case presented at an AAP meeting 10 years ago raised my curiosity about MLPs and inspired me to attend law school. Later, I was appointed to the AAP Committee on Medical Liability and Risk Management with the goal of informing pediatricians about MLPs and their role in improving children’s health.

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